Drew Silva

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Francisco Cervelli open to extension with Pirates; at three years, $39 million?


Francisco Cervelli had a nice debut season with the Pirates in 2015, batting .295 with a .370 on-base percentage in 130 games while contributing steady defense behind the plate. But the 29-year-old catcher is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2016 season, and the Pittsburgh front office will have to buck up — slight pun intended — to keep him around for any longer than that.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has the latest …

Even though Cervelli is only nine months away from free agency and is expected to rival Baltimore’s Matt Wieters as the top catcher available next winter, Cervelli would consider foregoing the open market if the Pirates offered a three-year extension offer worth roughly $13 million per season, according to a source.

That’s not a ton of money for a reliable catcher, but the Pirates operate on a tight budget compared to other MLB teams. They’re paying Cervelli just $3.5 million for the 2016 season.

“We do not discuss negotiations — potential or active — publicly,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington told the Tribune-Review when asked about a possible extension. “We like Cervelli a lot and would welcome the chance to have him remain a Pirate in the event we are able to find a contract that makes sense for both the player and club. We are also fortunate to have two quality catching prospects that are near major league ready in case we are not able to reach common financial ground.”

Those prospects are Elias Diaz and Reese McGuire, both top-10 guys at the position.

Another thing to ponder as we move toward the start of spring training.

Devin Mesoraco cleared for all catching drills following last year’s hip surgery

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Devin Mesoraco was limited to 23 total games in 2015 and he did not appear at the catcher position beyond April 12 due to a hip impingement that eventually required major surgery.

But the 27-year-old slugger is looking like a good bet for a big bounceback in 2016.

Mesoraco told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer on Wednesday evening that he has been performing “all catching drills” and the surgically-repaired hip has given him zero issues thus far.

Mesoraco was a stud for the Reds in 2014, delivering an .893 OPS (147 OPS+) with 25 home runs and 80 RBI in 114 games. He’ll try to provide some much-needed excitement for the rebuilding club this year.

Mesoraco is under contract with Cincinnati through the 2018 season at some fairly reasonable rates. He may get traded eventually as the Reds shake out their aggressive organizational rebuild, but it probably won’t happen this summer even if he fully rehabilitates his trade stock with a massive first half.

Actually, don’t hold us to that.

Nationals sign veteran starter Bronson Arroyo

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Bronson Arroyo has agreed to a deal with the Washington Nationals, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It’s a minor league contract that includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Arroyo turns 39 years old next month and missed the entire 2015 season following Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, but the lanky right-hander was among the most durable starting pitchers in baseball for a 10-year stretch from 2004-2013, averaging 207 innings per season.

If he can successfully complete his elbow rehab, Arroyo will be able to provide organizational rotation depth for the Nationals behind Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark, and Joe Ross.

Arroyo, a 16-year major league veteran, owns a 4.19 career ERA and 1.29 career WHIP.

Rays have some interest in free agent shortstop Ian Desmond

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times suggested earlier this month that the Rays might be open to a marriage with free agent shortstop Ian Desmond if he is willing to accept a one-year contract, and now SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo says there is legitimate interest on the part of the Tampa Bay front office.

But the Rays are reluctant to give up a draft pick for Desmond, who rejected a one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Nationals in November, and Cotillo’s source calls that a “huge obstacle in getting a deal done.”

Desmond, 30, has struggled to attract a healthy market this offseason after batting .233/.290/.384 with 19 home runs and 13 stolen bases in 156 games last year for Washington. He averaged a .275/.326/.462 batting line, 23 homers, and 22 stolen bases per season between 2012-2014.

Astros ink Danny Worth to minor league deal

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Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Astros have signed veteran infielder Danny Worth to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Worth spent the entire 2015 season with the Triple-A affiliate of the Diamondbacks, batting .314/.394/.469 with six home runs and 47 RBI in 106 games while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and shortstop.

The 30-year-old is doubtful to crack the Opening Day roster with Houston, but he can provide quality organizational depth at multiple positions on the Astros’ infield.